IOM-Panel-Local-Government-Actions-to-Address-Childhood-Obesity-

IOM Panel-Local Government Actions to Address Childhood Obesity

Healthscaping – Issue 5
Dear Colleagues,

The extensive media coverage on swine flu seems to have crowded out news about an even more lethal epidemic – obesity. While the most recent high-end estimate of mortality due to the H1N1 virus is striking (6,100 deaths for the period between April and mid-October of 2009), it is dwarfed by the number of deaths due to poor diet and physical activity, which was recently estimated at 400,000 per year. The other big health news story – health care reform – has largely missed a key point. Prevention efforts are needed to address this obesity problem if there is ever to be a hope of reducing health care costs.

I recently had the privilege of serving on the Institute of Medicine’s panel on Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity. Charged with expanding upon two previous IOM panels citing potential of local government efforts to combat childhood obesity, this panel worked to produce a practical policy guide for local officials.

Informed by expert testimony, literature, reports and toolkits, we developed actionable recommendations that focus on the promotion of physical activity and healthy eating among children outside of the school environment. The resulting report outlines 58 action steps under 15 broad strategies, with special emphasis on the 12 most promising physical activity and healthy eating action steps.

In Louisiana, local government officials are aware of the need to employ policies that will encourage healthy living among children. With an overall grade of D from the 2009 Louisiana Report Card on Physical Activity and Health of Children and Youth, it’s clear that more must be done in the policy arena to improve the physical and social environments.

The City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana are working to employ several of the IOM panel’s action steps (which we’ve highlighted in bold throughout this article). With regard to healthy eating, the city and the state are working to create incentive programs to attract supermarkets and grocery stores to underserved neighborhoods. The City of New Orleans has allocated $7 million in disaster-Community Development Block Grant funds to provide low-interest loans and forgivable loans to attract fresh food retail outlets into underserved areas and to improve the offerings of existing stores. The funds will be delivered through the forthcoming ‘Fresh Food Retail Incentives Program’ and are expected to leverage additional financial capital from the private sector. At the State level, the Healthy Food Retail Act was signed into law on July 1, 2009, creating the structure for a financing program that will provide grants and loans to supermarkets, farmers’ markets and food retail providers. The objective of this program is also to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables in underserved communities, but with the focus being on the entire state of Louisiana.

Physical activity initiatives in New Orleans include the Tulane Prevention Research Center’s (PRC) collaboration with community partners to plan, build and maintain a network of sidewalks and street crossings that connects to schools, parks and other destinations, in order to create a safe and comfortable walking environment. This network is also collaborating with schools to implement a “Safe Routes to Schools” program in New Orleans and across the state. In collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, the Tulane PRC collected a baseline evaluation including community and school-level data for five planned Safe Routes to School sites across the state. A follow-up evaluation is planned for when the projects are completed to determine the impact of the Louisiana Safe Routes to School program on children’s mode of transportation to and from school.

In the future, the Tulane PRC plans to continue collaborating with school districts and other organizations to establish joint-use agreements that would allow playing fields, playgrounds, and recreation centers to be used by community residents when schools are closed. This is a real problem in New Orleans, as the number of public recreational spaces declined significantly after Hurricane Katrina. Establishing joint-use agreements is one simple way local officials can ensure children have a safe, dedicated space to play.

These are some of the examples of what we’re doing here in New Orleans, but the Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity guide provides a menu of action steps that can be tailored to specific situations throughout the country. I was impressed with the diversity of the folks on the IOM panel that created this report, in terms of their personal backgrounds, geography, and even occupation (we had a mayor and a county supervisor in the group). This diversity is reflected in the recommendations, which should make it easier to apply the report’s suggestions in a wide array of contexts.

Although the H1N1 epidemic may have taken the oxygen out of the media’s interest in obesity, the focus has demonstrated that organized public health efforts – immunization programs, in this case – are needed to combat epidemics. We can build on this recognition by working with our colleagues at the local level to employ public health approaches that target an even bigger, though more silent, epidemic.

Best regards,

Diego Rose and Lisa Hoffman

To view the full report, visit http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12674.

On actual causes of death, see: “Mokhdad pdf”:“JAMA_Actual_Causes_of_Death-1290294282.pdf”:http://prc.tulane.edu.php5-16.dfw1-1.websitetestlink.com/uploads/JAMA_Actual_Causes_of_Death-1290294282.pdf

On H1N1 estimates, see: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/estimates_2009_h1n1.htm.

On costs of obesity, see: “Finkelstein pdf”:“Finkelstein_09_HA_Med_Spending_Attrib_to_Obesity-1290294254.pdf”:http://prc.tulane.edu.php5-16.dfw1-1.websitetestlink.com/uploads/Finkelstein_09_HA_Med_Spending_Attrib_to_Obesity-1290294254.pdf

Image of report cover was provided by IOM and NRC.

Topics:   obesity

Other Related Posts

Message-from-the-Director

Message from the Director

Education & Engagement

Published: June 11, 2019

Our Movin for LIFE Guide to Community Health is ready! This Guide will be very helpful for residents interested in enhancing the health of the neighborhoods in which they live. The Guide is based on the Movin’ for LIFE activities over the last five years and contains information about community-wide health promotion activities, focus groups, community assessment and community engagement. This Guide is not to be missed. Better yet – come to our Make Your…

Read More

NOLA-LEADS-Publishes-Article-on-Community-Leadership-Trainings

NOLA LEADS Publishes Article on Community Leadership Trainings

Education & Engagement

Published: June 11, 2019

In an effort to increase community participation in civic and political activities to address health and promote health equity, Tulane Prevention Research Center faculty and Community Advisory Board partnered with Tulane School of Medicine to develop NOLA LEADS (Leadership Education and Action on Health Disparities). This program was designed to educate lay New Orleans community residents about improving community conditions and build leadership skills through addressing social determinants of health. The program’s curriculum built upon…

Read More

Movin-for-LIFE-Guide-to-Community-Health-Makes-Its-Debut

Movin’ for LIFE Guide to Community Health Makes Its Debut

Education & Engagement

Published: June 11, 2019

Over the past year, Tulane PRC faculty, staff, and community partners have worked together to write the Movin’ for LIFE Guide to Community Health. This Guide encourages the dissemination and replication of community-wide health promotion activities developed for Movin’ for LIFE, a community-based prevention/intervention and research program implemented initially in the 9th Ward of New Orleans. During the span of Movin’ for LIFE, a variety of physical activity activities were conducted, from Yoga for LIFE,…

Read More

Active-Steps-Keeping-Up-with-the-Summer-Slim-Down-on-the-Go

Active Steps: Keeping Up with the Summer Slim Down on the Go

Education & Engagement

Published: June 11, 2019

Summer is here and everyone is many are working towards their summer body physical activity goals. It can be a daunting task but with these easy tips and the right mindset, anything is achievable. You may find yourself with challenges, whether that’s staying active on a family trip you are trying to keep your fitness goals on track while traveling for business. Studies have shown that 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) each week…

Read More

Nutrition-Bites-Smart-Snacks-for-Crazy-Car-Trips

Nutrition Bites: Smart Snacks for Crazy Car Trips

Education & Engagement

Published: June 11, 2019

Car trips with the family can be stressful to begin with – not only on the mind, but on the body as well! With these simple tips, we hope to help take the guess work out of choosing smart snacks and drinks for on-the-go. In the Cooler: Fruit: Fruit can be easy on the go snacks because they typically require little preparation. Apples, bananas, oranges, berries, grapes, and pears are all great on the go…

Read More

Message-from-the-Director

Message from the Director

Education & Engagement

Published: March 18, 2019

As I am sure most of our readers know by now, the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC) will not be funded for another five years. This is very sad news for all of us here at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, but I am sure it is just as saddening for those of you who have worked with us and partnered with us for the past 20 years. Yes, the PRC has…

Read More

Health-Racism-and-Communication-Seminar-Series

Health, Racism, and Communication Seminar Series

Education & Engagement

Published: March 18, 2019

Starting this month, Tulane PRC will co-host the Spring 2019 Health, Racism, and Communication Seminar Series in collaboration with The Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health (CEMCH) and The Mary Amelia Douglas-Whited Women’s Community Health Education Center (MAC).  This seminar series works to educate attendees about communicating the influence of racism on health. 
 On Tuesday, March 19, Nicole Deggins, CNM, MSN, MPH, Founder and Director of Sista Midwife Productions will address Social…

Read More

Associations-Between-Neighborhood-Park-Quality-and-Usage-Findings-from-a-Tulane-PRC-Study-

Associations Between Neighborhood Park Quality and Usage: Findings from a Tulane PRC Study

Education & Engagement

Published: March 18, 2019

In efforts to better understand factors that may impact physical activity levels of people in their neighborhoods, a study was done through the PRC to evaluate park quality and usage in lower income African American neighborhoods in New Orleans.   Based on prior research, neighborhoods have been classified as an important social determinant of health. “Neighborhood environments can play a role in one’s decision to engage in physical activity. Prior research has shown that lower…

Read More

Community-Partners-Update

Community Partners Update

Education & Engagement

Published: March 18, 2019

Bunny Friend Neighborhood Association (February 16th, 2019) On February 16th, the Bunny Friend Neighborhood Association hosted a green infrastructure workshop in partnership with Water Wise Gulf South at St. Mary of the Angel’s Church. The Green Infrastructure 101 Water Wise Workshop taught community members “do-it-yourself” solutions to reduce flooding while leaving the neighborhood looking beautiful. The event provided refreshments and raffle prizes, including rain barrels and a home assessment for Upper 9th Ward residents. Infrastructure…

Read More

Legislative-Update

Legislative Update

Education & Engagement

Published: March 18, 2019

New Orleans Food Policy Committee is very pleased with the changes recommended by the City Planning Commissions Small Box Store Study. The recommended changes make it much more accessible for residents to access fresh food while also giving food businesses and farmers an economic boost. For more information or to read through the report, check out the City Planning Commissions website or click here While the entire document is very interesting, the recommendations begin on…

Read More

canary